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How to Trim a Christmas Tree

Tired of having a sad little tree straight out of A Charlie Brown Christmas? This season, make yours look like a mini-version of the one in Rockefeller Center.


  • Step 1: Spread out a skirt Spread out a tree skirt. Not only do presents look more festive under the tree on a tree skirt, but it will catch pine needles, making cleanup a breeze.
  • Step 2: Plump the branches Plump up the branches. When a tree is packed for transport--or, if it’s artificial, put in a box--the branches and needles can get scrunched up. Fluff them out by rubbing your hands against the grain of the needles.
  • TIP: If your tree is real, water it every day to prevent it from drying out. The average Christmas tree can drink several quarts of water in an hour.
  • Step 3: Test the lights Test the lights by plugging them into an outlet before you string them on the tree. You don’t want to have to take them off again due to one bad bulb, and you want to ensure that they’ll remain cool to the touch.
  • TIP: To make tree trimming more fun, use it as an excuse for a party. Ask guests to bring a Christmas ornament.
  • Step 4: String the lights String the lights by starting at the top and winding them around the tree in a spiral until you reach the bottom.
  • TIP: To determine the ideal number of lights, multiply the tree’s height and width (at its widest) and then double it. For instance, if the tree is 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, 6 x 4 = 24 X 2 = 48, so you need 48 lights.
  • Step 5: Put on the garland Put on the garland. Start in the back of the tree at the bottom and work your way up and around.
  • Step 6: Hang ornaments Hang the ornaments, placing larger ones towards the bottom of the tree and the heaviest ones on the thickest branches.
  • TIP: A good yardstick is six ornaments for every 6' of height.
  • Step 7: Top it off Add the tree topper, usually a star or an angel.
  • TIP: Strings of popcorn or cranberry and homemade gingerbread men add a personal touch.
  • Step 8: Admire your work Stand back and make sure there are no bare spots, and that the ornaments are evenly distributed.
  • FACT: The idea of decorating trees in December precedes the birth of Christ by centuries; it was originally a pagan ritual to celebrate the winter solstice.

You Will Need

  • A tree skirt
  • A Christmas tree (real or fake)
  • Lights
  • Garland or tinsel
  • Ornaments
  • A tree topper
  • Popcorn and/or cranberry strings (optional) (optional) (optional)
  • Gingerbread men (optional) (optional) (optional)

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